Manchester Orchestra - I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child (Cover Artwork)

Manchester Orchestra

I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child (2006)

Favorite Gentlemen

The first time I heard Manchester Orchestra was when a friend of mine knocked on my door, handed me a CD, and told me I absolutely had to listen to it. I don't think I can thank him enough for that, either. After giving I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child a couple listens, it was abundantly clear this band was (and is) onto something special. Heartfelt without being overly sappy, they've got a knack for writing catchy, emotionally driven indie pop songs that are both upbeat and yet slightly melancholic. They will burrow themselves into your subconscious and play themselves on repeat in your brain ad infinitum, which would probably drive you fucking insane if they were any less talented.

For a band that hasn't hit their 20s yet, they've released an album here that is mature beyond their years, and they've done it on their own label (Favorite Gentlemen). Impressive. Guitarist and vocalist Andy Hull has an incredible voice, and he has an excellent sense of how to construct hook-laden vocal melodies to boot. The band's layered instrumentation points toward the likes of The Snake the Cross the Crown (who they've recently hit the road with) but with less twang, or a more recent Brand New (who they've opened for on several recent tours) but less depressing and more hopeful.

On tracks like "Sleeper 1972" and the haunting "Where Have You Been?," they're achingly sentimental, and alternately on "Now That You're Home," they're inspiringly optimistic. Some of the less creative song titles here (namely, the otherwise solid slow acoustic jams "I Can Feel Your Pain" and "Don't Let Them See You Cry") initially scream out "generic sad bastard crap" at first glance, but fortunately those titles belie the quality of the tunes themselves. They switch things up between chilled out low-key moments and huge, explosive melodic hooks (like on "Alice and Interiors" and the previously mentioned "Now That You're Home"), and it's those kind of dynamics that make this such an engaging listen.

If Manchester Orchestra doesn't blow up into a household name, it won't be because they don't deserve it. To say they're going to be the next big thing would be silly and presumptuous, but if they ever manage to attain the same kind of mainstream success bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse have been enjoying lately, it wouldn't be much of a surprise. While there isn't anything strikingly new or groundbreaking about I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, it remains an exceptional album from start to finish that sounds immediately familiar without lacking any depth, and that's certainly nothing to complain about.